Imagine a city without automobile exhausts. If the dream has to materialise, a transition from petrol-fuelled automobiles to electric or solar vehicles is a must. A start-up firm has taken a small step in this direction in Bangalore. Given their production schedule, a few dozens of eco-friendly, E-Star electric rickshaws should be trundling the Bangalore roads by the middle of next year.
Started by an entrepreneur duo, Gopinath and Shuaib, the company N.T. Solutions has developed five different prototypes of the electric rickshaws.
The vehicles, once charged for six hours, can run for 80 to 100 km and can attain a maximum speed of 30 km an hour. An ideal replacement for petrol or LPG-run auto-rickshaws, these three-wheelers can carry four to five passengers on city roads.
Says Gopinath, the vehicles are fitted with 650 watt Torc motors imported from China and require no registration from the RTO under existing laws which require no permit for vehicles that run slower than 30 km an hour.
To boot, even drivers require no licences. The company has come up with several variants of prototypes ranging from deluxe to standard to cargo. The motor capacity could vary from 650 watts to 1,000 watts depending upon the load it is expected to carry.
However, the vehicles will have to be essentially stationary for six hours for charging the four batteries of 12 volts each. The batteries also will have to be replaced after 24 to 30 months. The four batteries together will consume six to seven units of electricity during per charge which may cost not more than Rs 30 to 35 depending upon slab-wise charges under various electricity boards. The running cost therefore comes down drastically to just 30 paise a kilometre.
According to Director M. Shuaib, the electric rickshaws can be custom-built as per the needs of the clients who may use it for carrying passengers, ferrying goods or even as catering vans for hotels or vans serving needs of laundries, small grocers, florists, or as delivery vans for courier companies etc.
The vehicles weigh between 160 and 170 kg. The cargo vehicles have been designed to carry loads varying from 500 to 800 kg. These could have the choice of tipper trailer too.
The clients could opt for rickshaws with wind shields and hoods extending up to the drivers seat or without these features. Gopinath, who is a co-director, says besides operating cost being extremely low, the vehicles are completely noiseless and ideal for cities that suffer from high decibel of noise and toxic exhausts. He says the prototypes of the vehicles have evoked wide interest and the company is currently assembling 20 different rickshaws at its Peenya unit.
He says the body is made of rust-free steel and almost all accessories would be available off-the-shelf in the market.
He however apprehends that 14.5 per cent of VAT would jack up the price of these rickshaws before they hit the roads.
The ex-factory price is estimated to range between Rs 1.07 lakh for a 4+1 seat rickshaw to Rs 1.40 lakh for a cargo vehicle with a load carrying capacity of 800 kg. They have approached the authorities for concessional VAT in view of the environmental-friendly nature of vehicles.
The duo is even planning to mount solar panels over the hood of the vehicle to provide dual mode (battery+solar) operation options in future. If their plan to induct solar panels comes to fruition, the vehicles could even run for 160 km before another charging is needed.
The 48 kg batteries (altogether four in number) sit in a hold beneath the passengers seat and add major weight to the vehicles. The owners also need to replace them after every 24 to 30 months which may entail a cost of Rs 18,000. Some vehicles come studded with a rear dickey too which besides stepney can also take some luggage.
Gopinath says these rickshaws are basically designed for cities as transport vehicles and can overcome a gradient of 50 to 60 degrees while climbing flyovers etc. The floor level being 25 centimetres above ground, they can negotiate road humps with ease, he adds.
Source: The Hindu
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